Living wills can eliminate confusion about end-of-life care | News, Sports, Jobs


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A living will can help ensure that a patient’s request for end-of-life medical care is met.

Because life is uncertain, there may be times when you are unable to discuss your desires when it comes to making end-of-life decisions. Without a living will, it can be much more difficult for loved ones to know what to do.

A living will is a written declaration of your desire for treatment if you are unable to speak for yourself because of a serious illness or injury. This may include wanting all life-saving measures to be taken, or simply not wanting to be resuscitated.

“If the patient’s instructions aren’t clear, our healthcare systems have a default setting and the default setting is very aggressive treatment,” said Dr. Dominic Moore, Medical Director of Palliative Care at Intermountain Healthcare. “It may mean a ventilator, other life support equipment, CPR, chest compressions, attempts to shock and restart the heart.”

Saturday, April 16 is National Health Decisions Day and physicians from across the state are asking Utah residents to take the time to fill out an advance directive and give it to their hospital, doctor, family members and other loved ones.

“For the past 20+ years, I have spoken to patients of all ages about the end of life,” said Dr. Steve Cherrington, Physician of MountainStar Healthcare. “I see a lot of pain when an advance directive is not granted, and there can be a lot of heartache for the families left behind who have not been able to answer these questions.”

Cherrington said that as difficult as it may be, everyone should discuss their desires at the end of life, e.g. B. who he wants to speak for him when he is not able to do so himself and what the end of his life looks like for him. He said there are three basic categories that typically occur when end-of-life care is discussed. The first category is low stress and occurs when an advance directive is discussed early on. The second category is increased stress and occurs when the topic is discussed after a possible final diagnosis. The third category is very high stress and occurs when a patient is so ill that they are unable to make their own decisions.

“If they have their wishes spelled out in an advance directive, that can be very helpful and the family can feel good about the decisions that have been made,” he said.

dr Kencee Graves, associate chief medical officer for inpatient health at the University of Utah Health, said while the conversation might be awkward, it’s crucial to have it, and it’s ideal to have that conversation at home with loved ones to lead.

“You can start by saying, ‘Mom, Dad, whoever, I know it’s hard to think about, but making your wishes come true is really important to me. If you can’t speak for yourself, who should respond to your voice? Do you want machines to extend your life,’” she said. “It’s so important to know what quality of life means to them, what defines us, and what makes a happy, healthy life. Try having those conversations now.”

Moore, who treats many children in his practice, said if the child is under 18, the decision rests with the parents. Nevertheless, the child should have the opportunity to express his or her opinion.

dr Arlen Jarrett, Steward Healthcare’s chief medical officer, said every state has a website where they can find an advance directive, as well as numerous resources that can help during the process.

“Most people don’t make advanced plans, and studies have shown how difficult it is for patients and doctors to make those decisions,” he said. “We interview every patient at the time of registration and support those who have not made plans. Without a living will, people may not get the outcome they hoped for. That is why we want to shed light on the topic and point out the available resources.”

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